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The top ten most socially conscious brands

2020 is a big year for company sustainability. Here are some of the top brands that are changing the way they do business to better the environment.

When it comes to our environment and climate change, nothing is more impactful than the behaviours of big corporations and global industries. Whether it is fashion, agriculture, travel, or anything in between, our demands as consumers have risen dramatically over the last half a century.

With all that increase in reliability, speed, and quality, comes bigger production and potentially heightened levels of carbon emissions. We know that industrial progress often means sacrificing our environment, but as we move further into the 21st century, businesses are having to readjust and adapt. Some are spearheading the way for others to follow, balancing branding with sustainability.

So, to help you get wised up and give you a little extra knowledge on companies you likely use every day, here’s our picks for the best social conscious brands out there right now. Keep in mind that this list could change year by year, as more brands pick up the pace and get serious about sustainability.

 

Microsoft

Bill Gates’ tech company has altered the way we do nearly everything, but it’s also been helping charitable causes since 1983 through its giving back programme. This year it’s likely Microsoft will be donating over $2 billion to good causes, which is encouraging news.

It also publishes an annual corporate social responsibility report that details everything its currently undertaking, which is handy if you’re looking to get clued up. Microsoft has stated in its current sustainability roadmap that all of its newly constructed buildings will run on carbon-free electricity and has joined the Climate Leadership Council, an international policy institution that is looking into ways to reduce carbon use.

All in all, Microsoft is a huge donator of financial aid, helping to assist social change causes around the world. Plus, its research and development into more environmentally buildings and energy sources make it a top contender for this list.

 

LEGO

I know what you’re probably thinking. Didn’t LEGO have a partnership with Shell a while ago? Isn’t it responsible for making tons of indestructible plastic pieces that hurt like hell if you step on them? Well, yes, but hear me out.

LEGO is a noteworthy company to put on this list because of its impressive turnaround since 2014. Throughout the last half a decade LEGO has set out new guidelines for environmentally friendly production plans and diverse workspaces, with the goal of making all of its products and packaging sustainably by 2030.

Its also introduced a new programme called ‘Replay’ that encourages consumers to reuse and recycle previously bought plastic bricks, and by 2025 the company is dedicated to eliminating all LEGO waste entirely from landfill sites. It is currently investing in technology to reduce its carbon footprint as a whole, using more solar energy and replacing factory lighting with more efficient LED bulbs.

In short, LEGO is striving to be seen as a top socially conscious brand, and provides the perfect example of how a company can turn its core ethos around efficiently.

 

Starbucks

The worldwide coffee chain has been eager to diversify its staff in recent years, having made headlines for announcing a ramp up in hiring efforts over the coming years. It wants to create more than 240,000 jobs by 2021, and will be hiring over 25,000 US veterans by 2025.

Starbucks is primarily made up of young employees too, with over 50% of its staff being under the age of 24. It offers apprenticeship programmes for staff in the UK and US with additional qualification schemes on offer. Over 99% of its coffee is ethically sourced and the company has pushed for its customers to use reusable cups with reward schemes and discounts. You can view more information on Starbucks’ green initiatives here.

 

Google

While it might seem a bit odd to include a search engine in this list, Google has an abundance of smaller, more secretive companies that do lots of research into global sustainability innovations. For one, we recently wrote about TIDAL (I’m not talking about Jay Z’s streaming service), a new research development project by Google that’s looking at ways to make fishing more sustainable and cost effective.

The company also provides precise, geographical data on emissions and energy consumption in specific areas across the globe. Businesses can use this data to better optimise and lower their own carbon footprint. Google also has its own Congo Power program underway that is bringing investment and opportunities to local residents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

Maggie Marilyn

So far I’ve mostly been mentioning big name brands you’ve probably known about for decades. What about the smaller companies who are trying to make a difference in their respective industries? Step forward Maggie Marilyn, an independent fashion line that’s bringing sustainable practices to the forefront of its production line.

By the end of this year over 50% of its garments will be made from repurposed or recycled materials, and all of its packaging is compostable. The company is based in New Zealand and invests in carbon credit programmes, with the eventual aim of being a carbon neutral business.

You can read more about Maggie Marilyn’s 2020 strategy here.


Disney

The home of Mickey Mouse has been keeping the environment in mind for quite a few years now. Just last year, Disney’s Conservation Fund awarded $6 million in grants to 80 non-profit organisations, and has donated over $86 million in total since 1995.

In addition, it’s taking steps to lower the amount of plastics used throughout its restaurants chains and product packaging. In 2019 it removed all single-use plastic straws and stirrers worldwide, and has vowed to begin disposing of single-use waste responsibly.

Outside of environmental causes, Disney also offers wishes for children battling terminal illnesses in partnership with organisations such as Make-A-Wish. It gives experiences to over 10,000 of these children every single year.

 

Levi Strauss & Co.

Fashion is a hugely damaging industry for the environment, particularly as far as fast, one-time-use clothing is concerned. Levi Strauss & Co. has been trying to go against this trend since 2009 though, deliberately educating consumers on ways to extend the life of their clothing (with an emphasis on jeans, obviously).

It released its own tag called ‘Care Tag for Our Planet’ which gives consumers straight forward instructions on how to care for new jeans. It also has tailor shops dedicated to customising and repairing jeans, jackets, or any other garment, meaning you don’t need to keep replacing items you’ve already bought.

Plus, you can donate your old clothing to be recycled if you really do have to part with it.

 

Bosch

Bosch is another big name that’s trying to drastically change the way it does business to put further emphasis on the environment.

Like many other companies on this list, Bosch has a target of being carbon neutral by the end of 2020 – and has also invested in machine-learning algorithms that can detect abnormalities in bio samples for medical purposes. In short, computers can now help to diagnose some medical conditions quicker and easier than ever. You can read more about this work here.

 

Reebok (and Adidas)

Clothing companies have a big hill to climb when it comes to sustainable practices, given the damage that fashion is having on our environment as a whole.

However, Reebok has committed itself to reducing emissions by the end of this year, and has also dabbled into political movements in the past few years that emphasise female empowerment within government. Its 2017 t-shirt campaign helped support US politician Elizabeth Warren who was infamously silenced by a Republican Senator during a debate, and historically the company has been the first to launch shoes and clothing designed specifically for women.

Its parent company Adidas, meanwhile, is a founding member of the Better Cotton Initiative and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

 

Ben and Jerry’s

I bet you weren’t expecting an ice cream manufacturer to take a place on this list, but yes, Ben and Jerry’s has a lot to shout about when it comes to sustainable practices and socially conscious branding.

For one, it’s very transparent about the emissions that it produces throughout every stage of its food creation process. It also supports parent company Unilever and its Sustainable Living Plan, which pushes for green energy and innovative technology in the humanitarian space. Currently, Unilever already purchases all of its energy from renewable sourced in the US, and has a goal of 100% clean energy worldwide by the end of this year.

Ben and Jerry’s has also taken part in protests and rallies, having joined the People’s Climate March in previous years. Its freezers are now moving over to greener HFC models, too, helping to reduce overall emissions.

 

Those were our picks for some of the best companies out there that are looking to better their carbon footprint and create more ethical business practices. Moving further into this century, businesses across multiple industries will have to adapt and evolve to better fit the greener demands of younger consumers.

To put it bluntly, Gen Z’s spending power and more socially conscious attitudes are pushing companies to re-evaluate their bottom line. Business isn’t just about cash anymore – it’s also about green responsibility.

 

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